When the Comparison Game Turns Ugly

Forward: When my trusty editor (aka my Mum) reviewed this piece ahead of publication, this was her feedback:

“Whoa! Not what I was expecting at all. Great writing but it’s a bit of a dark piece. A change from your usual upbeat writing style, very raw, and it kind of threw me for a bit. Are you sure you want to expose your vulnerabilities like this?”


Some tales need to be served like a fine whiskey: Neat. Not watered down. Xx


As humans we are wired for comparison.

It appears to be ingrained into our genetic makeup, our DNA, such is the pull it has over us/for us.

We are constantly trying to gauge how we measure up to those around us.

Everything and anything is fair game.

Lives. Physicalities. Businesses. Families. Achievements. Relationships.

The list is seemingly endless.

Even though we hate how it makes us feel, how it damages our self-esteem and sense of self-worth, we do it anyway.

And allow other people to do it to us.

“Why can’t you be more like so-and-so?”

“Have you seen so-and-so’s new website? She’s nailed it!”

And my personal favourite (note the sarcasm): “So-and-so who had [insert relevant medical condition/health problem] is completely cured.”

Which is usually followed by a large pause.

A non-too-subtle reminder that I, in fact, am not cured. When apparently I should be.

There are many people in this world with Guillain-Barrè Syndrome (GBS). Chronic pain. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Pick your condition and insert now.

On paper the labels are the same. We appear to be tarnished with the same brush strokes.

But the label merely scratches the surface. It’s the sticky stuff underneath that really matters.

I’ve had GBS. Maybe you have had GBS. But any comparison between you, me and any other person is like comparing apples and oranges.

We are all a tad fruity but that is where the similarities end.

There is no comparison. There can be no comparison. Every person, their situation, their circumstances, every moment in life, is unique.

We shouldn’t expect the same recovery rate; we shouldn’t expect that we will respond to the same treatment.

There are too many variables at play that we can never fully hope to understand or appreciate. We have different genetics. Cellular structures. Lifestyles. We eat different foods. Grew up in different environments.

So naturally our bodies respond, change and heal very differently. What works for me may not necessarily work for you and visa versa.

But knowing this doesn’t always stop the comparison game from being played.

Only this time, I’m not an active participant (e.g. it isn’t self-perpetuating brain chatter), but rather a casualty of the game.

I’ve heard it all before, in every possible variant that can be used, from multiple sources:

“Well so-and-so who had [insert ailment] is completely cured. I don’t know why you aren’t better.”

“This medication has worked for other people, why doesn’t it work for you?”

I am not so naive as to not understand that these comparisons come from a place of extreme frustration. Fear. Helplessness.

Motivated by a sense of powerlessness that they are unable to help despite their best efforts.

But nevertheless, projecting vulnerable feelings and opinions in this way doesn’t change the outcome.

My body doesn’t just go oh, ok, I’ll be all better now because your friend’s friend has made a complete recovery from the same ailment; or because Medication XYZ has worked for 10 other patients.

We are all unique. 

“Comparison is the death of Joy.” ~ Mark Twain

The comparisons don’t make us happier or appreciate life more. They are demoralising. They stir up negative emotions such as frustration, anxiety and resentment, making us feel bad about ourselves and our situation.

And that’s heartbreaking.

For all involved.

It’s time to put the comparison game away.

I’m reminded of the old English proverb that we are taught as small children:

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” 

Pretty sage advice, wouldn’t you say?

And if all else fails and the game dice keeps on rolling, just tell your comparison critic (inner or outer) to zip it.

Works like a charm 😉

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

~ Albert Einstein

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All photos the property of Starbrite Warrior and Bree Hogan


  • Christina

    You have reached into my heart, without knowing me, and spoken the words that I could not form. Thank you! Gentle Hugs, Christina (aka @myspoonsandme)

    • Bree Hogan

      It was so lovely to connect with you on IG today Christina. All that talk about flashing those pins in a killer pair of heels from the comfort of a chair; a girl after my own heart!

      The comparison game can be so tough. It took me a while to write this post, to be able to articulate with words the sentiments and feelings that I wanted to convey. So thank you for taking the time to comment and let me know how it resonated with you. I look forward to more chats, either here or over on IG. Bree xx

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